Official Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2013

Held At The Den on 24 April 2013

Attendees Bob Asprey (MSC Chairman), Paul Ted Robinson (MSC Vice Chairman), Ian Toal (MSC Treasurer), Graeme Smale (MSC Secretary), Peter Garston (Fan on the Football Club Board), James Groves (MSC committee member), Dave Hart (MSC committee member), Jim Nash (MSC committee member), Chris Prete (MSC committee member), Laura Romitelli (MSC committee member), Jason Roseman (MSC committee member), Ayse Smith Coates (MSC committee member), Stan Godwin, Tony Jordan, Sue Keegan, Geoff Marshall, Rosemary Willers (all MSC members)

Apologies were received from George Lampey (MSC committee member)

Introduction and welcome by MSC Chairman
Bob welcomed everybody to the meeting and thanked them for their attendance.

Minutes of the last AGM of 18 April 2012
The minutes of the 2012 AGM were accepted as a true record; proposed by James Groves, seconded by Dave Hart and passed unanimously by all attendees.

Chairman’s summary of the MSC year and the Committee’s achievements
Bob said that it had been a difficult year with various high profile incidents including those involving Leeds player El Hadji Diouf, Bolton’s Marvin Sordell, and the events of our FA Cup semi final at Wembley. Whilst none of these was directly a MSC issue, there were knock on effects and all caused much work to keep the committee busy. Bob feels there is a good mix of strengths in the committee, which has helped us work well when dealing with such issues. He felt the Sky racism programme was handled particularly well. Graeme wrote a good letter to Sky Sports on behalf of the supporters’ club, which was generally well received by the club’s members. This led to an invitation to visit Sky’s offices, which three committee members did. Bob described this as a tough and hard hitting meeting, and in no way ‘cosy’. He believes the company do now view the club’s supporters differently and it was generally acknowledged by the AGM attendees that Sky’s coverage of our club has improved. Subsequent to that meeting, we have had further contact from Sky. Separately, they met Andy Ambler, so some useful relationships have been built. There has been a general rise in media invitations, which have all been well handled. On this measure, it’s been a successful year.

Relationships with the football club have been maintained in a constructive way. Some supporters’ club members believe the relationship is too comfortable, but Bob disagrees. The committee’s close and strong links with the football club are always likely to lead to such an impression. However, Bob believes that we will continue to have a positive relationship with the club, especially while Andy Ambler and chairman John Berylson are with the club.

Lions Live has gone from strength to strength, with congratulations to all involved, including Sam Brown, a key member of the team. Thanks to Ann Lampey for her great support of the show and we look forward to whenever she may wish to return.

MSC programme pages had been an ongoing issue but responsibility for these was taken on by Laura nearly two years ago and she has done a great job. It can be a difficult to balance MSC wishes with the requirements of the programme editor, but this has been achieved.

Thanks to James Groves for managing website content. There is a good variety of information, with the benefit of plenty of fresh Lions Live news. Another difficult job managed very successfully.

This year the MSC purchased a Wembley stone, with copy still to be installed at the club, outside the entrance to ‘Arry’s Bar, so making it easily visible to all MSC members.

The SE16 bar was a concept long encouraged by the committee. Responsibility for the bar lies with the club but Bob considered its availability a success, if only for giving supporters an option on somewhere to meet before games.

Police liaison is always a tricky subject. Is it a good thing to engage with the police? There used to be liaison with our local force but no contact with away game constabulary. With encouragement from the Football Supporters’ Federation, this season we had conversations for away games at Brighton and Blackpool and Bob considered it useful. There was also liasion for Wembley; the game had been assessed as medium/low risk, but obviously that’s not how events transpired. However, Bob still thinks liaison is a good idea in principle. Stan agreed that he didn’t think it could do any harm, but Bob contends that we should remain cautious.

This year’s first team home shirt was unpopular. The secret to good sales is to engage with the target market. The committee has continually lobbied for and encouraged this, but there was none for the release of this shirt. It’s known that sales are down. Of the remaining 1,500 blue shirts, 500 were embroidered for Wembley, leaving about 1,000. Laura mentioned that she had recently included in a set of programme notes a minute from a club meeting, where Andy Ambler had undertaken to involve the supporters’ club in the plans for the next home shirt. This had been excluded from the notes when they were included in the programme. Despite being queried with the programme editor, no reason has been given for this omission

Ray James, the club’s commercial manager has left the club for a new role with Manchester City. The man replacing him, Alan Williams, has worked in football for many years, so we’re optimistic and open-minded as to what he might achieve. Stan said that Mark Beard had spoken highly of him on Lions Live having worked with him at Crawley. Pete had also researched him and didn’t find anything to cause concern. Rather than being an employee of the club, Alan has been given director level status, so will have a good deal of influence.

A committee objective had previously been to ensure there was at least one coach travelling to every away game. That’s not been an issue this year, with coaches provided for all games except Charlton and Crystal Palace. Chris says there’s still an issue with accurately listing travellers but Andy Ambler doesn’t think this needs attention, so nothing is likely to change on this front.

Bob was pleased that all existing committee members want to stay on, which is good news, especially given the aforementioned mix of strengths in the group. Bob is pleased as he assumes this means that the committee members feel their work is worthwhile. Jim advised that he will be away for two months, but this isn’t considered a problem.

Regional supporters’ groups have been an ongoing discussion recently. Ray James had tried to implement a scheme, especially in Kent areas, using social media as the principal channel of communication. There were some misgivings amongst some of the committee, but Bob felt there is value in this, if run correctly. The plans seemed to lose momentum and nothing definite became of them. Ray James had originally been trying to make the scheme a revenue generator, but then realised any additional revenue would only be an indirect benefit. We wait to see if the new marketing head progresses this idea. James was acknowledged for his efforts in engaging with our Irish supporters during the preseason tour and subsequently.

Bob was disappointed that, apart from Stan, there had been little interest in joining the committee, and what there was had fallen through. Bob noted that many committee members are long standing, so fresh ideas are welcome. Whilst the committee has worked hard to raise the profile of the supporters’ club, this hadn’t generated more interest in the committee and its work. Bob had thought that Lions Live might have generated interest but, again, this didn’t happen. Bob noted, though, that the committee was full and focused, so there are no major concerns.

Graeme raised two points: firstly, the new marketing head, Alan Williams. Graeme feels the Financial Fair Plays rules may have been in the club’s thoughts when employing him, especially with granting him director status, so we need to find out his plans, attitude to supporters’ involvement, etc. We also need to ensure our fullest support in these plans and our involvement where we can.

Secondly, Graeme wanted to know why there was an urgency to release a statement following the Wembley crowd trouble. Pete said he was partly behind that. He had been on the phone to John Berylson for an hour and forty minutes after the event. Berylson had wanted to know if and when decent fans were going to say something. Pete had tried to explain that those involved were quite probably not regular fans. He noted that 75% of tickets would have been with non season ticket holders, given the way the allocation had been applied. Pete had also encountered a lot of hostililty at the last board meeting. Although not condoning the behaviour of the few, it’s clear the police should have acted more decisively. Bob added that there had been pressure from various areas for something to be said. Pete had received a dozen emails of support; nobody condoned the violence. Stan said we should be asking the FA questions but Laura suggested that Millwall still has to tread carefully with the FA. Stan wants to understand the FA’s process, but Bob feels that the club will have asked any questions that were appropriate. It was noted that Andy Ambler had met with the FA on the Monday following the match. The fact that fans were being admitted to the stadium when plainly drunk was also noted. It was agreed that should the incident have happened at the Den, the authorities would have handled it very differently; although Chris said that he recognised some of the police at the game as being those that cover Millwall home games. Chris also noted that there were supporters of other clubs at the game, including West Ham. The sales of Club Wembley tickets should also be reviewed, especially as there were several witnesses to glasses, bottles and coins being thrown from this area. It was agreed that the the FA is partly acknowledging some failings and errors by its decision not to punish the club for the trouble, and by allowing the police to deal with people on an individual basis.

Presentation of annual report and accounts by MSC Treasurer
Ian explained that the club holds the £1 the MSC receives from each adult season ticket or membership sold in a separate account. Separately, the MSC holds its own account for self generated income. Club held funds are shown to January 2013, so excludes a late run of memberships sold during the cup run. An amount of just under £3,000 is added to the £11,000+ surplus. Memberships at this point were down from 9,000+ last season to under 5,000, but May’s finalised accounts will have details of the final membership numbers. Payments out include a £500 donation to the Lionesses, a contribution to participating in the Danson festival and the costs of hosting the quiz night.

MSC accounts include income from the MoM sponsorship, Ian wished to place on record his thanks to Tony and Rachel of the Coach and Horses in Bexley for their continued support; income from raffles and the quiz night; and a small surplus from the MSC organised Blackpool trip, c £80.

Expenditure includes the MoM and PotS trophies, committee room hire, and funeral flowers. This year, we include the cost of the Wembley stone at £270 and the printing of the MSC festivals banner. The accounts currently show an overspend of £330, with two more months of the accounting year to run. Ian thanked the committee members, who generally self finance their committee work, in travelling to meetings, etc.

Following on from Graeme’s original suggestion, Laura proposed a donation to the One Boston appeal. A figure of £1,000 was passed unanimously by all attendees. Jim will be pursuing the idea of securing a place in next year’s Boston Marathon to continue this support. Pete said the chairman will greatly appreciate the donation to the appeal

Bob thanked Ian for his continued hard work as Treasurer.

Report from Fan on the Board
Pete apologised for his absence from last year’s AGM. He said it the year past had been quite tough. Peter had twice tendered his resignation as FotB, firstly when he fell ill and thought he may not be able to continue in the role, but the chairman had refused to accept the resignation; the second was during the Sordell incident. Pete had been involved in the wording of a statement, which the club then attempted to amend and release without his knowledge. Peter advised the chairman that if the statement was released with the amended wording, he would resign. Eventually the wording was returned to the original. It was noted that the boy involved in the incident had apparently now completed the awareness course that he’d been offered.

Peter said he’d received no complaints regarding catering in last six months. Ayse says she does hear complaints but feels nobody can be bothered to formalise the complaint, as it achieves nothing. Laura suggested finding out how sales are performing and Ian agreed we should ask club about this.
James said that Lindleys has recently been taken over by an American company, Centerplate, so this may have an impact in time.
 
After the Derby game, the directors will attend their usual three day strategy meeting. Kenny Jackett will be asked to talk through the season and decisions he has made and budgets for next season will be discussed. Andy Ambler and Scott Fitzgerald will also attend.

Smoking and drug taking by supporters needs urgent attention. There are issues over stewarding this type of behaviour. Drinking in the stands due to bottles being brought through is also a problem. These issues will be tackled somehow next season.

Two bans had been lifted in the last two months: the first a teenage boy in Block 10, who had been implicated in a drugs incident involving others nearby. The incident was partly caused by him not being cooperating with stewards. When asked, they would not advise him why he was being asked to leave the stand. Jason says that stewards in any situation (not just at football grounds) are obliged to give a reason for an attempted ejection.

The second ban was due to the use of inappropriate language. The man involved was shown CCTV of his behaviour to prove the incident. He has signed a behaviour order as part of the decision to overturn the banning.

Peter tries to put a report out regularly and has committed to releasing a minimum of four reports next season. Pete refuses to deal any further with one supporter who has been abusive and sworn at Pete on the phone.

This year Pete has taken 16 days’ leave from work for board meetings, and attended all but two MSC committee meetings. He starts a new job on 20 May and isn’t sure how he’ll be able to manage his diary and meet all club commitments but will advise if things become difficult.

The events at Wembley have caused two sponsors to consider withdrawing their sponsorship.  One was an existing sponsor and the other a potential new shirt sponsor. Stan had noticed new messages on the electronic screen, and wondered if this was part of new marketing/commercial plans? Peter didn’t know.

Peter wanted to say thanks for being allowed to continue carrying out the FotB role, as he absolutely enjoys it. He noted that he does not do the job for financial gain; in fact he pays his own way when he could claim expenses.

Graeme asked what the other directors’ attitude is to recent events. Trevor Keyse is probably the most active director in this regard. Con, Demos and John are focused on the regeneration. Trevor is club focused and has a very negative view of those involved in the trouble at Wembley. Peter is concerned about kneejerk reactions and needs to remind the other directors that the decent fans cannot be penalised due to the actions of the minority. The board sees what happened at Wembley as having damaged our name both home and abroad and impact on our chances of improving current and future attendances and finances. This is one reason why the joint MSC statement was needed, to show that the vast majority of fans were as disgusted with the behaviour at Wembley as the directors. Excessive swearing is a problem at games and there are areas of the ground, such as the family enclosure where fans should not be constantly swearing.

Relegation hasn’t been discussed in any detail. Pete has been assuring the board this will not be an issue.

Stan asked about Sordell, and wanted to know why Sordell had not been brought before the FA to explain his allegations when they had not been proved. Peter said that the CCTV had no audio to confirm or deny allegations, so nothing could be proved either way and no further action could be taken.

Bob thanked Peter for his continued commitment to the role.

Introduction of new committee
A maximum of thirteen committee members are permitted; we have twelve existing members with one potential new member, Stan Godwin. As such, no elections are required. Committee roles will be confirmed at the next committee meeting.

Bob asked Stan to explain his motives for applying to join the committee. Stan said he’d been thinking about it for a while. He’s now retired from working for London Underground, where he used to be a trade union representative and he enjoys this type of debate. He’s obviously also a big fan.

Bob asked all at the meeting, especially non committee members, what the aims and objectives for next year should be. Suggestions included advertising on the outside of stands, especially those facing the London Bridge railway lines. Bob noted that this had been raised and discussed many times before, however it would be expensive to implement. Pete says cost is a big issue with scaffolding required to erect the advertising, but there are some early talks and plans taking place.

Stan suggested that local railway stations should acknowledge the club in their signage. Again, Bob confirmed that this is something the committee has been pursuing. The likeliest route will be if and when the new Surrey Canal Road station is built. Pete wants to try and engage more with fans that don’t use the message boards or view everything online. Laura mentioned that she had been planning on suggesting engaging more with the Southwark News, trying to secure some regular space for MSC news.

Graeme brought up the idea of bringing in coaches from Kent. There are a number of issues here and a lot of work and commitment would be required, items include funding, deciding on pick up points, finding stewards. Pete suggested the first attempts may need to be subsidised by the MSC. We would also need club liaison in order to access email or postal mailing lists. This idea should be raised at the next club meeting to gauge interest.

Date for next committee meeting: Monday 20 May, 7.00 pm

There being no other business, the chairman closed the meeting at 9.17 pm.


Millwall Supporters Club, c/o The Den, Zampa Road, London SE16 3LN  -  phone: 07895 022 325  -  email: info@millwallsupportersclub.co.uk

 


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